There’s nobody quite like close friends to help you through a difficult time and Jono Coleman had a very strong support network behind him when he was given the devastating news that he had prostate cancer last year.
Now, the 62-year-old TV star has revealed some of the best support and positivity came from his Channel 10 co-star Barry Du Bois, as well as Angela Bishop’s late husband Peter Baikie – both of whom were battling cancer at the same time.
Sadly, Peter died at the end of last year following his brave battle. Barry is continuing to fight his own disease, but has confirmed it’s “incurable”.
Despite their difficult health issues, Jono revealed in an exclusive chat with Starts at 60 that all three of them relied on their humour to help them through.
“We were all up at the same place, we’d run into each other there while having treatment,” he explained. “Baz was fantastic, we’d joke to each other and cheer each other up. He’s still going through it now.
A year ago I was having chemo at St Vincents Kinghorn Centre now I’m 99 percent better. I will always be positive about licking prostate cancer. And will. Make sure you get your PSA checked regularly and get a digital check also if need be. They found mine early. Makes all the difference. X. So pull ya finger out if you’re over 40 or 50.Cheers jolly Jono. Cancer Survivor. X
“Angela’s husband, who sadly passed away, was great too. The thing that keeps most people going is that sort of ‘gallows humour’.”
This darker sense of humour was something Jono grew up with, as both his parents had it following the Blitz in London during World War II. He explained: “They got used to the idea of bombs dropping all the time, but people would still joke around. It’s the idea that ‘we’ll get through this if we take the piss out of each other’.
“It was like that with Pete. He kept his humour right to the end, he was just so amazing. That’s why it was so bad that he didn’t come through the end. We all went to Pete’s funeral and it was an uplifting but very sad thing.”
While Jono managed to keep working throughout his treatment – which included a round of chemo followed by radiotherapy every day for seven weeks – he has thanked Channel 10 for their ongoing support throughout.
It wasn’t just his colleagues offering support, and he also received powerful words from TV star Stephen Fry, who recently battled prostate cancer too.
“I’ve known Stephen since the ‘80s. I met him when he came to Australia at the time, and he’s given me amazing support,” he added.
“He just said, ‘look, these days we’re so lucky to be living in 2018 because the technology is so cutting edge. All my thoughts and love go to you, and the thousands of other people who have gone through it and are going through it’.”
While Fry opted for surgery to have his prostate removed, Jono said he chose to keep his and undergo immediate chemo instead – knowing his cancer had already spread to his lymph nodes, spine and bones, which would mean he’d need it regardless.
Meanwhile, Jono formed a strong bond with Home and Away star Johnny Ruffo, who is also continuing treatment for brain cancer. He admitted seeing someone so young battle the disease with so much bravery put his own health concerns into perspective.
“We’re all aware of our longevity and we all know we’re going to shuffle off to Buffalo one of these days,” he admitted, however he insisted many people have it worse off – both old and young.
“I know a lot of kids who have childhood cancers, even Johnny Ruffo who is fighting brain cancer. I’ve been friends with him for a couple of years, and all of a sudden he had this terrible headache, went to hospital and they found his huge tumour.
“He’s having radiotherapy as well, and he’s 29 or something. It happens at all ages, so there’s always somebody worse off than you. I’d think ‘s**t, I’ve got nothing to worry about’.”